Truths You Can Use

Truths You Can Use


What Made Moses A Great Leader

Tomorrow evening the Jewish community begins the holiday of Passover. We tell the story of the journey from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land. The hero of that journey is Moses.

moses passover

In Jewish tradition Moses is the greatest prophet the Jewish people ever had. He is the law-giver, teacher and scribe of God. He challenges Pharaoh, leads the people through the desert, and guides them to the edge of the Promised Land.

His life ends on a poignant note, as God permits him to see the promised land from afar, but does not permit him to enter it. Moses’ final resting place is unknown because, according to the Jewish sages, God did not want the people to turn Moses into a divine figure. He was simply the Jewish people’s greatest prophet.

How Moses’ Life Begins

Moses’s birth seems to suggest he was destined for great things. Unlike the other Israelites, he never experiences slavery. He is placed on a basket immediately after birth and sent floating down the Nile River. His sister Miriam watches his basket from reeds beside the river, and sees the daughter of Pharaoh take the basket and find the Hebrew child.

In the Bible, Pharaoh’s daughter has no name, but later Jewish commentators call her Batya, which means “daughter of God.” Her compassion and humanity lead her to adopt Moses as her own son. He is raised in Pharaoh’s palace, a “Prince of Egypt,” presumably afforded all the luxuries and opportunities of Egyptian royalty.

Leaving Royalty

Everything changes the day he first leaves the royal palace. His age at the time is unknown, but later interpreters suggest he was 15. He sees Egyptian task-masters whipping Israelite slaves.

Although the text does not tell us how and when he learned he was an Israelite, Moses knows the slaves are his people, and he acts to defend them. He kills one of the Egyptian taskmasters.

The next thing he does is stop a fight between two of the Israelite slaves. After he does so, one of them taunts him and says, “Are you going to kill me in the same way you killed the Egyptian?”

Moses realizes that word of his crime will spread, and he will be wanted man in Egypt. He flees for Midian, which is a desert land of shepherds and nomads.

His first stop in Midian is at a well. He encounters a group of hostile shepherds attacking a group of seven sisters. Moses defends them and drives the shepherds away. He returns with the daughters to their home and meets their father Jethro, a local priest. Moses soon marries one of the sisters he saved named Zipporah.

A Passion for Justice

What unites Moses’ first three actions is his passion for justice.

  1. He could not bear seeing a helpless slave beaten by an Egyptian task-master. 
  2. He could not stay silent as two Israelites fought one another. 
  3. And he could not stand by as Midianite shepherds attacked a group of defenseless sisters. 

Moses does not stand idly by as others suffer and bleed. That quality made him the Jewish people’s greatest leader. 

To get a free book and receive Rabbi Moffic’s weekly digest of Jewish wisdom, click here.



Previous Posts

What to say to your Jewish Friends on the Holidays
While speaking at a church recently, I received an urgent question: “Is it okay for me to wish my Jewish friends ‘A Happy New Year’ on Rosh Hashanah? “Absolutely,” I said. The questioner then asked what was appropriate to say on Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, when many Jews

posted 5:47:52pm Sep. 29, 2014 | read full post »

A Prayer for Chelsea Clinton's New Daughter
When Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinksy married, I wrote about the religious choices they would have to make. Those choices come into sharper focus now that they are the parents of a beautiful daughter, Charlotte. Those choices are not clear-cut or absolute. Having worked with hundreds of int

posted 4:02:02pm Sep. 27, 2014 | read full post »

How To Make Peace With Your Regrets
This is the text of the sermon I delivered on the morning of the Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. You can Click here to get the MP3 audio recording of  my delivering the sermon The most popular musical in the country when I was in college was Rent. Perhaps you saw it. It was not as edgy as

posted 8:32:03am Sep. 26, 2014 | read full post »

Hearing God's Alarm Clock: What You Need to Know about Rosh Hashanah
On Wednesday night and Thursday, Jews around the world will celebrate the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, which literally means "Head of the Year." What distinguishes Rosh Hashanah from every other holiday is the sounding of ancient ram’s horn, known as a shofar. It makes a scratchy, plaintive primi

posted 7:58:49am Sep. 23, 2014 | read full post »

Why We Still Love Fiddler on the Roof After 50 Years
As I child I could not sit through movies or meals. Sitting through a musical was out of the question. Yet, when I was seven, my parents decided to take me to see Fiddler on the Roof. Looking back now as parent of a seven-year-old, I would not have been so bold. Since that first experienc

posted 6:59:14pm Sep. 16, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.